Somerset

Section of Birnbeck Pier collapses into sea

Birnbeck Pier Image copyright Timmay Curtis
Image caption Birnbeck Pier was damaged in high winds

Part of a Victorian pier - the only one in Britain to lead to an island - has collapsed into the sea amid high winds.

A walkway at Birnbeck Pier, in Weston-super-Mare, collapsed into the Bristol Channel, the Birnbeck Regeneration Trust said.

The structure is among the 10 most endangered buildings on a list compiled by the Victorian Society.

The Grade II*-listed pier shut in 1994 and has since fallen into a state of disrepair.

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Media captionPart of Birnbeck Pier collapsed into the sea amid high winds and driving rain which battered the West Country

Heidi Griffin from the trust said the north jetty "could not be saved" and its collapse was "nothing we weren't expecting".

"Obviously with the weather we've had recently, we knew that the likelihood of it falling away was quite likely," she said.

She added she was confident much of the rest of the structure could remain intact, saying the "Victorians knew what they were doing" when it came to building piers.

But she also said a Heritage Lottery Fund bid, which is currently being prepared, would be the last chance to save the pier.

Image caption Actor Timothy West praised Birnbeck Pier as a "beautiful piece of engineering" just weeks ago

Actor Timothy West recently visited the pier and said it would be "a significant loss" if it collapsed.

West said it was a "beautiful piece of engineering" and needed to be saved.


Birnbeck Pier history

  • First attempt to build a pier at Birnbeck was made in 1845 but abandoned after financial problems
  • Work on a new pier began in 1864 after campaign to raise £20,000 - Birnbeck pier opened in 1867
  • Fire destroyed most of the structures on Boxing Day in 1897 with replacements built eight months later
  • During World War II, Birnbeck was taken over by the Admiralty and was used for secret weapons testing
  • In 1990 the pier was severely damaged in a storm and it closed four years later

Source: Birnbeck Pier history


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